CHEF JEFF TUNKS
PassionFish VA & MD
7187 Woodmont Ave
Bethesda, MD 20814
Chef Jeff Tunks is one of the best and brightest in the ever-growing constellation of great American chefs. There are few who possess as much confidence, extended experience, business acumen, and as deep a passion for simply prepared seasonal foods. Underneath a six-foot-three exterior in chef whites is a man with the soul of an artist, the passion of a perfectionist, and an unquestionable devotion to running a top-notch kitchen.
Like many in his field, Tunks attended the Culinary Institute of America; unlike many, however, Tunks received the prestigious Frances L. Roth Award for outstanding performance. From there, he served an externship under Dean Fearing at the Veranda Club in Atlanta, transferring with him to the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, where Tunks worked at Mistral, a sister restaurant on the complex. There he met his mentor, the classically French-trained chef Takashi Shirmaizu. It was under Shirmaizu’s tutelage that Tunks was introduced to the idea that at the foundation of every great dish must be superior ingredients and solid cooking techniques. Additionally, Shirmaizu’s Eastern influence on Western cuisine became the base for Tunks’ cooking.
With the opening of DC Coast in June of 1998, Tunks created the perfect stage for his distinctive cuisine. Showcasing ingredients indigenous to the tri-coastal areas, Tunks developed a modern American cuisine all his own. A success from the outset, DC Coast has garnered outstanding reviews from Gourmet (one of the top 5 restaurants in Washington), Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, Wine Spectator, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Tunks’ succulent crab cakes are perennially ranked the city’s best, in a town that considers the crab cake its particular specialty.
Amid great anticipation, in September 2005, Tunks launched Acadiana, featuring modern interpretations of Louisiana fish house classics, a cuisine dear to his heart since his years in New Orleans. It has been named one of The Top 20 Restaurants in America (2006) by Esquire Magazine. In October 2008, Tunks crossed the Potomac to open PassionFish in Reston, Virginia, ten years after he and his partners opened the doors to their first restaurant. PassionFish is the next generation, twenty-first century rendition of DC Coast, taking its tri-coastal seafood theme to a global level – and has been hailed by Esquire, Food Arts, and The Washington Post. As national critic John Mariani put it, “if you live nearby, you are very lucky indeed to have a place of this caliber.” As of 2011, Jeff Tunks was able to place his name and innovative ideas behind two new restaurants—District Commons and Burger, Tap & Shake—sister concepts that highlight fine American cuisine and a variety of casual but high-quality burgers, fries, and shakes (respectively). In early 2012, Jeff Tunks and his partners opened the doors to their next venture – Fuego Cocina y Tequilera – a temple of authentic Mexican cuisine serving robust, fresh and traditional dishes finely tuned to the technique-driven quality that Tunks is known for. In August 2014, the dynamic trio opened their latest venture: Penn Commons – a sportier, industrial chic all-American tavern in the Chinatown / Penn Quarter neighborhood of DC just next to the bustling area, Verizon Center.
Tunks was named Chef of the Year 2003-2004 by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington; and was a finalist in 2014 and 2015, for their RAMMY Award along with his partners in the category of Restaurateurs of the Year. He is listed in The International Who’s Who of Chefs. Washingtonian magazine named Tunks and his partners Restaurateurs of the Year in 2005. He is currently Chair of the Southern Food & Beverage Museum.